Derianna, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Derianna)
I found this book to be one of the best in the last decade. I am very interested in medical non fiction. I don't think anyone could not be powerfully moved by the story of Ms Lacks and the injustices she experienced from those who so benefitted.
JessMama, August 7, 2012 (view all comments by JessMama)
Fantastic, I could not put it down. Ms. Skloot did a wonderful job showing the life and legacy of this remarkable women. Even without her massive contribution to science Mrs. Lacks and her family's story is a compelling read. I uber recommend this book!
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells the tale of a woman whose cells were used — without her knowledge — in breakthrough medical research after her 1951 death. Skloot's moving story of faith, family, and science uses the past to teach us about ourselves and our modern society.
This is an absolutely fascinating account of a line of cells that would proliferate to such a degree that they became immortal. Shaved from a tumor in a poor black woman in the 1950s, cultured without her knowledge, and grown to amazing proportions, HeLa cells would change the face of science and medicine forever. Pivotal in the search for disease obliteration, HeLa would prove invaluable because it simply would not die. Yet, Henrietta Lacks did die, in pain and obscurity, and her family knew nothing of her living cells. Posing some very serious questions ranging from tissue ownership to the billion dollar pharmaceutical industry to the mad rush for the elusive cure for cancer to the impossible cost of health insurance, Skloot has done an admirable job of research here. Ironically, Henrietta's story, if read in a novel, would seem ridiculously fantastical. Yet she lived — and her cells still do. Her story is unforgettable.
"Review A Day"
by Valerie Ann Johnson, Ms. Magazine,
"Henrietta Lacks, a poor married, African American mother of five, died at 31 in Baltimore from a vicious form of cervical cancer. During her treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital and after her death there in 1951, researchers harvested some of her tumor cells. This wasn't unusual. Though Lacks consented to treatment, no one asked permission to take her cells; the era's scientists considered it fair to conduct research on patients in public wards since they were being treated for free. What was unusual was what happened next." (read the entire Ms. review)
by Ted Conover, author of Newjack and The Routes of Man,
"This is exactly the sort of story that books were made to tell — thorough, detailed, quietly passionate, and full of revelation."
by Booklist (Starred Review),
"Skloot tells a truly astonishing story of racism and poverty, science and conscience, spirituality and family driven by a galvanizing inquiry into the sanctity of the body and the very nature of the life force."
by Washington Post,
"Skloot's vivid account begins with the life of Henrietta Lacks, who comes fully alive on the page...Immortal Life reads like a novel."
by The Boston Globe,
"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a fascinating read and a ringing success. It is a well-written, carefully-researched, complex saga of medical research, bioethics, and race in America. Above all it is a human story of redemption for a family, torn by loss, and for a writer with a vision that would not let go."
by St. Petersburg Times,
"Riveting...raises important questions about medical ethics...It's an amazing story...Deeply chilling... Whether those uncountable HeLa cells are a miracle or a violation, Skloot tells their fascinating story at last with skill, insight and compassion."
Skloot brilliantly weaves together the story of Henrietta Lacks — a woman whose cells have been unwittingly used for scientific research since the 1950s — with the birth of bioethics, and the dark history of experimentation on African Americans.
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